GOOD! U.S. Embassy staffer in Cairo detained for collaborating with the Muslim Brotherhood

imagesDuring a press briefing for the US Department of State on Wednesday, State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters the US is not aware of the reason for Aleiba’s detention. She nevertheless added that ‘on-the-ground’ employees at the US embassy in Cairo have been in contact with the Muslim Brotherhood as well as other groups.

Daily News Egypt  A locally employed staff member of the United States Embassy in Cairo has been detained since 25 January, according to Embassy Spokesman Mofid Deak. Deak said the detained staff member, identified by news reports as Ahmed Aleiba, has not faced any official charges during the three weeks of his detention “as far as we understand.” 

Military-aligned newspaper Al-Watan published an article in July mentioning Aleiba as an employee who arranged meetings between visiting American government officials and Muslim Brotherhood deputy head Khairat el-Shater.

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Spokesman for Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Badr Abdelatty confirmed that the detained employee is an Egyptian who will be treated according to Egyptian laws. Ahmed Al-Rakeeb, spokesman for the prosecutor general’s office, said he has no information about the employee’s detention and questioned whether there was “any truth to the news regarding his detention.”

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Aleiba is being investigated for taking part in an illegal demonstration and for “communicating with an outlawed group,” citing an unnamed Egyptian government official.

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On 25 December, interim Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi’s cabinet listed the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation. Harf said that the US has not designated the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation.

Harf denied that the US is dictating what the future government in Egypt “should look like,” adding that the US is mainly concerned about such government being inclusive (meaning inclusive of Muslim Brotherhood terrorists). “We have been very clear in Egypt that we will work with all sides and all parties to help move an inclusive process forward,” Harf said. “We will continue talking to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt as part of our broad outreach to the different parties and groups there.” 

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Tension between Egypt and the US increased after the US State Department announced on 9 October that it would halt the delivery of large-scale military systems and cash assistance to Egypt’s government, pending “credible progress toward an inclusive, democratically elected civilian government through free and fair elections”. The US has also been critical of the violence that has gripped Egypt since the military ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi on 3 July 2013. 

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